The start of a new guitar

Welcome friends and strangers! Having returned from a fantastic guitar festival in Germany, I could hardly wait to start a new guitar building project, so within 24 hours of returning home, I was in the basement of my parents’ house, looking at wood for a Baroque guitar after Stradivarius. This will be my second of this model (I will post photos of the first at some point). I will be building when I can, however, it will be slightly sporadic because of university and living away from home (and more importantly, my workshop). I will use this blog as a means of recording my progress on the guitar.

A description of the guitar:

  • back: 7 piece birdseye maple and lacewood stripes
  • sides: birdseye maple
  • top: most likely cedar, but possibly spruce
  • neck: Spanish cedar
  • fingerboard: ebony
  • rose: 2 layers carved pear or cherry with a layer of paper
  • scale length: likely 640 mm, with tied, moveable gut frets

Progress Thus Far

Having roughly planned the project, I set to work cutting up the basic pieces for the plates of the guitar. The 7 pieces of the back were measured to fit evenly across the bouts of the guitar (tapering away from the butt end of the guitar). Before gluing the back up, I had to thin the pieces to a uniform thickness using a tool from Lee Valley:

thinning the back pieces
thinning the back pieces

Once the 7 pieces were uniform in thickness (about 3 mm) I set up a ‘shooting board’ to joint the edges of each piece. A shooting board includes a flat base board, a second, more narrow board on top, and a stopper block at the end. The back piece which needs to be ‘shot’ is placed on top, resting against the end stopper block. Then I used a very flat, square sanding block to carefully smooth and straighten the rough cut edge, checking against a straight edge. With a 7 piece back, there are 12 edges that need to be straightened and checked against each other.

After these pieces were prepared, I glued the back up in pieces. Here is a picture of the final joint being glued:

gluing up back pieces
gluing up back pieces

The cam clamps on either end just hold the pieces down to the work surface. Pressure is applied to the joint by the wedges (on the right hand side). Each of the joints is decorated by a black-white-black purfling stripe.

Next step is to prepare the top plates for glue, which includes more jointing and some flattening.


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I play guitar. I build guitars when I can. I enjoy all sorts of music, but Baroque, 'classical' guitar music of the 19th and 20th centuries, and jazz music hold special places in my heart. I am using this blog to document some of my adventures in guitar building, performing, and teaching, and hope to give my readers a bit of a look at the world inside a guitar.

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